Are you two-legged and have you just welcomed a four-legged companion into your home?
You will face a great obstacle: the first heat of your dog.
Not only will you learn what it is and how best to deal with your dog’s heat, but you’ll also learn what to look out for, how often heat occurs, and more.
Your bitch’s first heat will likely begin around 6 months of age.
Some small breeds may have their first heat at 4 months, while large breeds go into heat at 18-24 months.
Yes, there are ways to make your life easier during your dog’s heat (trust me, the blood will flow).
Yes, you will need to keep your very attractive female on a leash, especially once the bleeding stops since the heat is not over: interested males will poke their noses into your female’s business.
Yes, spaying is the only way to stop your dog from going into heat (spoiler alert: there is no menopause), but there are risks; more on that below.
But aside from all that jazz, how long does a dam last in that damn heat anyway?
Heat control: Is a dog’s first heat shorter?
There is no evidence that a bitch’s first heat is shorter than subsequent heat cycles. Anecdotes mentioning a shorter or longer first heat may be due to a lack of knowledge about a bitch’s heat cycle.
This “first heat is quick” myth has been around for some time and although there are reports of short first heats, there may be an explanation for this.
Much of the beginning and end of the heat cycle can go unnoticed as long as there is no blood.
Simply put, dog owners unfamiliar with the heat cycle will think the first heat was short.
To counter this, I have read reports where the first heat was extremely long.
This vent is about how your dog bled amazingly for over 21 days, which is pretty long, you should know, as my female Rottweiler usually hits 19 days worth of blood flow.
By the way: the vet’s recommendation, in that case, to wait with spaying after the first heat cycle (or even longer) is strongly supported by a large number of studies mentioning increased joint problems and risks of cancer with dogs that are sterilized too early.
However, we do not know how long the bitch was bleeding in subsequent heat cycles in this particular case.
You would need four-legged owners to regularly track their dog’s heat.
And far away we do not have any large-scale studies that did exactly that: follow a dog through multiple heat cycles.
So to conclude, unfortunately there is no scientific evidence to say that a dog’s first heat is shorter or longer, it all comes down to your individual dog and no two heat periods are the same.
Withdrawal of heat: How long does my dog’s first heat last?
A bitch’s estrus stage in first heat (ie bleeding) typically lasts 7 to 21 days with most bitches falling somewhere in between.
However, you are not out of the woods just because the bleeding has stopped.
I recommend reading about the 4 stages of canine heat to avoid any accidental mating.
Prepare for behavior changes, as well as blood flow, by getting a cloth diaper (reusable, sturdier, and not at risk of tearing).
Some dogs whose dogs bleed more than expected are in an unfortunate situation.
Grabbing a bunch of plastic diapers only to have your dog shred them, not planning for regular floor cleaning, not clearing your calendar, or being caught off guard by behavior changes are commonplace.
Heat management: how to comfort your dog in his first heat
Comforting your dog during her first heat is essential, as becoming angry by a natural process will not shorten the duration of your dog’s heat.
Although you can’t wipe out that annoying heat and all the problems that surround it, you can definitely ease its burden.
- Provide adequate physical and mental exercise.
- Provide you with a safe haven
- Lots of pampering and extra attention.
- Maintain hygiene (replace pads in diapers, wash bedding and blankets, etc.)
- Employ calming techniques, such as massage, dog calming TV, or whatever will float the boat.
The first thing is that your dog needs to exercise properly.
Don’t overindulge in extremely long walks, but also don’t sit around at home just because some article told you that dating a female in heat is not a good idea.
Low-impact activities are perfect.
As tempting as it may be to shed excess energy, avoid dog parks until your dog’s heat has passed safely.
Ask your vet if you are unsure about contact with other dogs and check when bitches can become pregnant during their heat.
As long as you keep the males at bay, you’ll be fine.
Establish a designated space for your wife where she will not be disturbed. Fill the space with her bed, blankets, and her favorite toys.
My Rottweiler is very clingy and usually doesn’t leave our side during his heat.
If that’s your dog, you can opt for lots of attention and pampering. Remember, your dog is going through these hormonal changes for the first time.
Hygiene is extremely important and includes cleaning up after your furry friend, removing disposable or reusable diapers, and keeping his bed and blanket clean.
Some females do a better job of staying clean than others, but a few drops of blood will fall on the floor or bedding.
Sharing anecdotes about how long any female’s first heat lasted is fine and may be interesting to other dog owners, but keep in mind that every individual is different.
Prepare yourself and expect the worst, this way you can only be pleasantly surprised.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for veterinary care and is not intended to be. I am not a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any signs of illness, call your vet.
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